“I’ve got a fever, so can you check? Hand on my forehead, kiss my neck”

2020 brought us a magnificent English-French pop-tune by Dua Lipa and the Belgian Angèle in a unique video with only female actors and no men in sight in a buzzy London neighborhood on the kind of fever we all need.

The fever we got in 2020 was of a different nature. Skin-communication was suddenly the most needed item of the year but rare to experience. Of course there was a lot of facial privacy behind our mask, but the overall feeling amongst the privacy and data protection community was one of heightened attention to governmental and business initiatives to fight the pandemic storms.

The discussion on the Covid tracing-app was a golden one for the data protection community, since it allowed to do the things we like to do: checking on legality and appropriate safeguards. Data protection is at its strongest when it transplants a discussion in favor or against a technology by a discussion on the kind of design and (further) use of a technology.

It reminded me about the body scanner discussion in the late 2000’s and how a sensible application of data protection principles and rules made a difference between overprotected badly designed body scanners and transparent and compliant scanners.

But this is conference about data protection and privacy. Not all technologies can be pimped by data protection rules and discussions about the legitimacy of high risk technologies can end with a ’no go’ or a ‘ban’. Europe has a lot to learn from other legal regimes in this regards. Asia’s embracing of just about everything and the US’s tendency to go for banning facial technology (at least in certain areas or temporarily) are a wakeup call for our self-confidence in the solidity of data protection as a unique, self-standing framework. Angèle was probably considering our European-GDPR fascination, and not Dua Lipa, in her reply:

“Peut-être qu’avec du temps, ça partira

Et pourtant, et pourtant, et pourtant, je ne m’y vois pas

Comme un médicament, moi, je suis rien sans toi

Et je sais que j’essaie, que je perds du temps dans tes bras”

Let us meet at CPDP and continue our annual data protection and privacy discussion in this disrupted world. This year will be CPDP’s only online conference ever, so we hope. We saw it as an opportunity to enhance our faculties to bring you the best possible conference in the world, combined with a top shelf art selection that will be accessible via our digital platform. Judging the number of bios on our website (https://www.cpdpconferences.org) CPDP will host 542 speakers, 85 panels, 15 art projects exhibitions, open studios and an art bar. For the panels we created our own platform (https://2021.cpdpconferences.net). This is complemented with a social and networking platform (Gather.Town) that will please those that toyed on Second Life twenty years ago.

Paul De Hert, Founder of CPDP & Co-Director of Privacysalon